Producer, visual artist and DJ, Avalon Emerson is something of a Renaissance woman.
Having relocated recently from San Francisco to Berlin, the talented powerhouse of creativity is someone we've had our eye on ever since she dropped the insanely brilliant 'Pressure / Quoi!' on Icee Hot back in 2014, a release that took a hold on us through its marching melody and polyrhythmic sensibilities. This year saw her throw down even more musical goodness, with highlights including an expert remix of HNNY's 'Solsidian' and her 'shtum 009', consisting of four tracks of slick-as-fuck, shadowy tech-house.
We caught up with Avalon for a quick-fire Q&A session, to find out a bit more about her process.
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Hey Avalon! What are you up to?
Hey there! Doing good, enjoying a beer at the moment.
You upped sticks from San Francisco to Berlin fairly recently... what do you like most about living there?
Living in Europe has been inspirational. I love being around all the different cultures, languages, and histories.
Your latest EP featured your own vocals. Is this something you want to do more of? Would you ever incorporate these into a live setup?
Sure! A live show is definitely a goal of mine at some point. I think it's hard to really nail though, I've seen more than a few lackluster performances where someone's just leaning over a bunch of blinking boxes on a table letting things run. Some really rad artists like Aurora Halal, Kink, and Some Ember are inspirational though with how much energy they can pack into a live electronic performance.
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What bits of kit - hardware/software - did you use to produce it?
I'm all in-the-box for producing, rocking Ableton Live since about version 5. I have a massively OCD-organised catalogue of samples and rack templates which help me speed up my work-flow. The Diva synth by U-he is one I've been loving recently.
I've just been creeping on your Tumblr account and it's a goldmine... You also used to be a professional photographer, right?
Ha, I usually browse Tumblr in the morning on my phone as a means of waking up via lolz. And yeah, I was a product photographer for a couple years for a family of boutiques in San Francisco.
Your DJ sets often contain curveballs... and it seems like you're the kind of person who listens to a whole range of music. How would you describe your own listening habits?
Some of my favourite DJs are also all over the map. Harvey, Mr Ties, the Body & Soul guys, Tama Sumo. It's far more interesting to hear someone string together seemingly disparate songs when the threads are personality, emotion, or cultural links, not just a similar sounding house loops.
What platforms do you use to discover new (or old) music?
Great sets by other DJs, digging in the depths of Discogs lists, YouTube playlists of Italo covers, Record Loft, Hard Wax, you know, the usual.
Dance music is an industry known for its unfortunate instances of sexism and misogyny. Have you encountered this at all?
All the damn time. It doesn't help to dwell too much on negatives though.
So what's next in the pipeline for you? Releases, shows, any other projects or goings on in your life?
It's been a really big year already! I'll have played Panorama Bar twice, Boiler Room, two US tours and DJed in a ton of European cities I would have never been able to go to otherwise. I'm so thankful for what music has brought me so far. Enjoying and appreciating the present is important to me. That being said, got a couple new records coming out early next year that I'm really excited about. I want to focus on writing more music.
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Words: Felicity Martin